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Going to work during a manic episode.


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How do yall deal with this? I am in a full blown manic episode & have been for the past 3-6 days. Not able to sleep much, can't eat. One minute I feel great, the next I'm crying on the floor. I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs. I was off yesterday & my mom came over to help me organize my room. I feel much better about that but there are other random thoughts going through my head and now I have to go to work in about 20 min. I have had a few panic attacks over the past few days & feel another coming on. I have had this job for about 9 months now, longest I've ever had a job at one place in my life. I've never talked about my bipolar disorder to my boss before so he knows nothing of it. It's incredibly embarassing to me to disclose personal information like that about my life to my employer. The last time I had a huge manic episode at a work place I quit my job due to me being so embarassed & next day ended up being hospitalized.. I can't take sick days, I work in a special team lead position & this causes my job to be on the line.

 

What do yall do to deal with going to work during manic episodes? I have a mini-appt with my pdoc tomorrow, but it's just getting so difficult to function day to day anymore.. Advice at all? Thank you.

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I don't think I could work through a manic episode, but I have worked through mixed.

For me it wasn't easy but I coped. I just did what I was told, I tried not to do anything I thought was a good idea and just stuck to exactly what was outlined to me before the job, if I finished something quickly and had time to spare then I would look at other things which seemed like a good idea. I also bounced ideas off other people before doing them, mainly because my judgement WAS impared(I couldn't always trust my judgement of something being a good idea).

 

It would be much harder in a position where you are managing other people however, and I don't really have much advice to offer in that regard. I will say good luck though.

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I think most people here would advise you against disclosing to anyone at work.

 

I think being able to focus was one of my bigger problems that affected my functioning during mania.  I would try to get as much "dark time" as I could--lying on my bed in a dark room, no screens or noise.  If I thought I could handle it, I would listen to some soothing music--nothing activating, but sometimes even the littlest bit would just spin me 'round.  If you can't sleep, it's important to get some down time.

 

The other thing I would do would be to create lists.  They got a little meticulous, and you have to really force yourself to DO those things on your list--just writing them down doesn't mean they're done (no matter how much I want them to be).  I would set "check-in" times for myself--every 15 minutes or so--to make sure I was on-task.  I also spent a little time at the beginning of my day each day getting the list set up.  Each break I took, I made sure the list was accurate and updated.  Sometimes, I would add things that weren't necessary, and I could remove those, or (more likely) you find that you have to add things.

 

I guess the last thing for me was to make sure that I took my breaks religiously.  I had at least a 5 min break every 2 hours, and sticking with that helped me stick it out when things got weird.  If I felt like everything was just too much, I knew the MOST I had to do was 2 hours (at a time), and that helped me not get overwhelmed.

 

All of that being said (and I'm a big fan of trying to stick it out at work), what would you do if you had pneumonia?  Putting yourself under stress when you're ill--no matter what kind of ill--is hard on a body and the mind.  It also takes longer for you to "heal".

 

Oh, one last thing:  I always had a "reason" for why I was acting off.  Most of the time, I could realize when I was symptomatic, and I always would lie and say that I had too much coffee or that I was put on some weird antibiotic or sleep-deprivation or something.  Most people don't know about medications to know off the top of their head what potential side-effects are, and even if they did, there are always weird side effects that no one mentions.  Having some little excuse that I could flip out helped when I got looks.

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Say your sick, any kind, will help disguise the your behaviour a little, Maybe migraine? most people are pretty forgiving towards that. I've done it, but it probably was a terrible, terrible idea.  I agree try and seclude yourself if you can, if chores need doing away from the office, go do them. I'd probably start counting down the hours on a chart or something, reassure your self you only have to last x hours to a break, and x hours until you can go home.

 

If you have any PRN meds take them, try and be low key and I hope you feel better soon.

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I take any prn meds I have available, call the pdoc and come up with an excuse for my behavior, not enough sleep, steroids for a bad tooth or allergic reaction. I have said I am having vertigo also, if I can't go in. If I absolutely have to go, I try to avoid any excess stimulation but stay busy to get rid of some energy. Sitting still like that just makes my eyes bug out anyway and that tips people off.

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Do not disclose about your bipolar to your boss.

It makes sense to make up a condition such as a migraine or stomach flu.

 

What do you mean when you write you can't take sick days?

Everyone gets sick on occasion, or at least most of us do.

Why can't you take sick days?

 

Do you have a work environment where there is pressure not to take a sick day?

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I have been unable to work through a manic episode, but have worked through a couple mixed. Not easily. I DID tell my boss what was going on when I had to be hospitalized in October after starting my job in August. She was super understanding, said she would never fire me because of that, told me my health came first and to do what I needed to do, and even came to visit me in the hospital another time. I know I am lucky though, past bosses/managers I would have never revealed these things to. I'm all for making up excuses as you can to otherwise explain your behavior/situation.

 

I hope things ease up soon!

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I agree that low stimulation is a great idea for you now. Shut the blinds in your office and keep a low lit lamp or something on for light. And it is very good and lucky you get to see your pdoc. He or she will hopefully help you through this. And PRN meds are a good idea now too.

I don't think I could work through a full blown manic episode. I hope you can make it through.

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I would also advise against telling your boss about your bipolar. 

 

I hope you can make it through this, and I'm glad you're able to see your pdoc. 

 

I worked through a euphoric hypomanic episode, and that was weird in itself, so good luck to you!

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I'd have to go a bit against the grain here.  Having just been thru a mania, mixed, and now I think DP and crash on top of adjusting and unadjusting to a bad med combo?  I found my supervisor was understanding about such things and demanded in a sense we tell them anything when hired that might impact performance. I nor she told the Director however and this supervisor was pretty clever in making better excuses than me at times.

 

Of course this person had MI in their family, and although they claim they are sane, they have all the markings of a Naricissitic Personality Disorder.  If we start to talk about bad med reactions Im having it quickly becomes about her hair. :blink:   Again this is an exception very often.  You know the people you work with.  Like your position, mine involves both semi manager abilities and high profile clients so a lot is at stake for the company.

 

But too many people report that they can't do this at their job.  Which I understand. This is the first job that didn't just say, OH, GREAT, well NOT OUR PROBLEM and showed me the door after episodes involving work.  Its a hard call. You have the facts, just think carefully before doing it if indeed it is a possibility.

 

If not, anything that helps you 'show up' and keep as even as possible?  Will just have to work.  Check the real meds you are on, many of them also get rx ed for migraines and nerve pain? Whatever the rx reason they can and do fuck up our brains sometimes.....telling them its a bad med reaction can work wonders. So can taking advantage of any chances to slack off and not have to go in......wherever they arise.  

 

Not looking forward to tomorrow myself.  Its been hard enough showing up for myself alone in a room on the weekend.  And luck offered me a four day weekend quite by accident, and I'm still so not ready.   Remember though that once we get to work? Things have a way of carrying on almost by rote.  Any and all the advise above, it it works use it.

 

Keep us posted.

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That's true, a lot of ACs are used for migraine. That is what I always told people, and in some cases, it was true. But I do have really bad migraines, and everyone knows that (after a month or so on a new job). They get worse when I am having an episode, but no one needs to know that.

 

It's interesting to me that people are able to work through mixed episodes, but not mania. I feel like mixed episodes are harder than mania, but I don't think I have actually had to work while manic.

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You can work with mania sometimes. The chances of losing your job tend to be much much higher though ;)

In my experience anyways......

"Did you bitchslap the client?"

"Me? bitchslap a client? Hell, no...I would never...well, no, I,actually yeah, I did...repeatedly.....YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT? YOU"RE NEXT BOSSMAN!!!" What? fired? oh...........

sigh

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If you could get your pdoc to write you a note giving you x number of days off, doctors order, the company really can't fight it. There doesn't have to be a reason, a doctors note is generally good enough.

Working while manic has always thrown me into a crash and then hospitalization. Not good. If you can get the episode treated before it gets too bad, that would be good. PRN's are a good idea, but you really need something to even you out and get out of the manic episode, so it doesn't happen again. Manic episodes can sound like fun, but they can be devastating.

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I had a pretty bad mixed episode and while I was *at* work, freaked out and long story short the police came and took me to a hospital in a gurney and ambulance in front of everyone... 

 

I've never been able to work very well during mixed episodes or at the bottom of a severe depressive cycle - thankfully at those times I had a job that had really good temporary disability benefits and was out of work about 2 months on average.

 

The past 2 years I worked through an entire depressive episode that seemed to last forever. It was extremely difficult but I had no choice. I actually got 'let go' of one of the jobs because I had to leave work early once.

 

I had a very good time working while experiencing hypomania...

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Thank you for your advice, everyone. I somehow made it through work. Had a panic attack in the bathroom, but because it was a Sunday it was a little bit easier to be gone for a while. I work in a place where I'm the only person who does my specific job and headaches/stomach flu stuff doesn't really cut it as far as an excuse there. Yes, there is a LOT of pressure on me at my work. I am actually in the process of finding something else because of this reason. I need to get my car fixed first though. I bike to work everyday. So until then, I'm kinda stuck.. :/

 

I'm sure I'd be able to take one day but definitely not two. It's really lame, but I've seen people get fired for taking a day w/o a note who didn't even have my specific position.. Just a regular one.. :( Difficulty to breathe is what I was struggling with today. That and tremors in my hands.. When people ask me about it I just tell them my stomach is hurting.. Had to find nail clippers at work so I could cut my fingernails, I kept digging them into my palms. I don't even realize I'm doing it until I start bleeding.

 

I am feeling a bit better right now, but as we all know.. it comes and goes. I have been making a couple lists when I can focus enough to. And one of my friends has been coming over to craft and hang out after work which takes my mind off things a bit for the moment. She knows about my disorders. I managed to take a 20 min nap today after work as well. I start a new medication tomorrow, Trileptal. Pdoc says it will help with the anxiety for sure and for me to sleep. I'm going out to dinner with a friend in a little bit too.. I haven't eaten all day so I hope it helps. I just don't want to sit at my apartment all by myself.

 

I don't have any PRN meds anymore. I used to take Klonzipam but have not for about a year now. It's been difficult. I think I should really talk to my pdoc about getting back on. I'm always scared that I will sound like I'm 'med seeking' when I ask for certain medications.. :/ I'm probably just being paranoid. But I've only seen him once thus far so we haven't really established a solid relationship as far as that goes.

 

I'm def. not going to disclose anything to my boss. He makes fun of 'crazy' people all the time.. It really makes me sad. Sometimes I just wanna bust out and tell him I'm bat shit insane. lol.. Probably not the best decision.

 

Again, thank you everyone for your advice. I will keep focusing on any and all good things happening around me. All the way down to my 20 min nap. I have been trying very hard to do that.

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My advice? The best thing you can do is talk to your boss. The hard truth is you're not going to keep your job anyway if he doesn't sympathize, and sooner or later, he's going to pin you down about either your behavior or your unexplained absences.

 

Any other ailment (migraines, etc) buys you a few days. You need a lot longer than that if it's a full-blown episode of manic.

 

I agree to avoid disclosing ANY TIME YOU CAN, and only as a last resort. But sometimes not disclosing is not possible.

 

Finally (and here's your question, after all this), I would avoid going to work AT ALL COSTS if you are manic.

 

Finally, I don't know any kind of manic that "comes and goes." Wish I could figure out how to do that trick.

 

 

 

Edited for typos that make me look ignorant, and to shorten.

Edited by goldfish
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I would hesitate to follow goldfish's example. It is awesome that she had such a supportive boss (REALLY supportive). But the vast majority of the time, disclosure backfires, even when people say they understand. I think if you asked most people here what happened at a job when they disclosed, and they will usually have had at least one incident where disclosure negatively impacted their employment.

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But the thing is, you are protected by law. An asshole boss cannot get around that. He/she might not go out on a limb like mine, but he/she certainly has to follow the law's most basic tenants regarding disability.

 

Bipolar is second on that list, right under para or quadra peligic. (sp)

 

ETA

And as far as disclosure, how negative is the impact of unexplained mania on the job?

Edited by goldfish
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Really good questions and answers raised here,  and lots of good ideas.  Only you know whether or not disclosure is possible. Some have, some have not, some need to and some need not to.

 

As for maintenance, the safest route is time off.  With affective disorders, we can't guarantee where or when we will veer off the road.  So finding any means necessary is real important now. Doctors notes may be necessary and a decent doc of any kind will understand and oblige you I'm guessing?

 

However moral we see ourselves, there are times too when an outright lie becomes necessary.  Hoping it doesn't get to that point, but as a last ditch effort to get time off? I wouldn't hesitate as my last option.  It's your livelihood or total honesty, well, not a hard  choice in the real world.  Thought that sucks cause we have to remember a lie.  The truth is kinda imprinted there without any effort.  Keep us posted.

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In my case it doesn't matter that it's a law that they can't discriminate, it is in our handbook that they can fire anyone for no reason at all so if I were to lose it I could be out in a matter of minutes. As for whether that would happen, who knows. They know I am on meds and I have had a few rapid cycling episodes while at work. They don't know why and they have never brought it up to me.

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